Although the vast majority of American parents believe their child is performing at or above grade level, in reality two-thirds of U.S. teenagers are ill-prepared for college when they leave high school.

Why this enormous disconnect? Could it be that test scores signaling that kids are “less than proficient” don’t register with parents because they conflict with the grades on their child’s report card?

Authored by American University’s Seth Gershenson, this study examines how easy or hard it is to get a good grade in high school today and how that’s changed over time. It answers three key questions:

  1. How frequent and large are discrepancies between report-card grades and state test scores? Do they vary by school demographics?
  2. To what extent do high school test scores, course grades, GPAs, and attendance align with student performance on college entrance exams? 
  3. How have such alignments and discrepancies changed in recent years?

Utilizing student-level data for all public school students taking Algebra I in North Carolina from 2004–05 through 2015–16 (including course transcripts, state end-of-course exam scores, and ACT scores), the study yielded three key findings:

  1. Although many students get good grades, few earn top marks on the statewide end-of-course exams for those classes.
  2. ...

Eight years ago, we compared states’ English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards to what were then the newly-minted Common Core State Standards. That report found that the Common Core was clearer and more rigorous than the ELA standards in thirty-seven states and stronger than the math standards in thirty-nine states.

While many states have, to varying degrees, revised their standards since 2010, the questions that should concern policymakers and the public haven’t changed: Are states’ ELA and math standards of sufficient quality and rigor to drive effective instruction? And if not, how might they be improved?

Unlike our previous reports, The State of State Standards Post-Common Core does not formally review standards in all fifty states. Instead, it focuses on those that have made the most substantive changes to the Common Core, or that never adopted them in the first place. By taking a close look at these states, plus a fresh look at the Core, we identify ideas that are worthy of broader adoption, as well as major mistakes that states should avoid.

The standards reviews that are the basis for the final report were conducted by two teams of highly-respected subject-matter experts—one for ELA and one for math—with deep knowledge...

Since 2010, when most states adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has been committed to monitoring their implementation. One of our initial reports, written in 2013 by lead author Tim Shanahan, surveyed middle and high school English language arts (ELA) teachers and found broad support for the CCSS-ELA, yet highlighted several red flags.

Five years later, the CCSS (or close facsimiles) are still in place in most states. And given that high expectations only matter when reflected in classroom practice, we owe it to teachers to continue supporting their efforts to implement these more rigorous standards.

Accordingly, we’re back with another nationally representative survey of ELA teachers.

Reading and Writing Instruction in America’s Schools, authored by Fordham’s senior research and policy associate David Griffith and FDR Group’s Ann Duffett, suggests real progress in implementing state ELA standards, but also—like the baseline 2013 report—real cause for concern. For example, middle and high school teachers are asking more text-dependent questions and report that students’ ability to accurately cite evidence from the text has improved—both of which are in line with the CCSS-ELA. Yet they have also become more likely to assign texts based on students’...

No two charter public schools are alike and the guiding purpose of the Pathway to Success series is to highlight the breadth of quality options available to parents and students across Ohio. Our latest profile, featuring Near West Intergenerational School in Cleveland, is a perfect example of a charter school born from a community’s desire for something different.

Near West Intergenerational School serves an eclectic urban neighborhood that is one of Ohio’s most racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse. The intergenerational aspect is equally unique, as the school model intentionally connects its young students to adults in the nearby area who serve as mentors and tutors throughout their schooling.

Cleveland resident and author Lyman Millard of Bloomwell Group details the school’s formation and shares with readers a compelling real-life story about how Near West has deeply impacted one Cleveland family who was once at their wit’s end trying to find the right school for their son.

Regardless of where you stand on the debate currently raging over school discipline, one thing seems certain: Self-discipline is far better than the externally imposed kind.
Over the years, Catholic schools have been particularly committed to the formation of sound character, including the acquisition of self-discipline. But how well has that worked? We wanted to know whether students in Catholic school actually exhibit more self-discipline than their peers—and if so, what those schools can teach other public and private schools about how it can be fostered.
To lead the study, we recruited Michael Gottfried, Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Jacob Kirksey, a doctoral student at UCSB, helped to analyze the data and co-wrote the report. To our knowledge, theirs is the first study to explore the potential effects of Catholic schooling on elementary students' self-discipline.
Gottfried and Kirksey analyzed two waves of nationally representative data on elementary school students that were collected as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten (ECLS-K).
Their analysis revealed three key findings. 
  1. Students in Catholic schools are less likely to act out or be disruptive than those in other private schools or in public schools. According
  2. ...

As people in Sciotoville tell it, their children historically have gotten Portsmouth’s leftovers—from textbooks to sports uniforms and more. That belief, they say, was the impetus for creating Sciotoville’s two start-up charter public schools.

Sciotoville East Community Schools are unique among charter public schools in Ohio. Serving students and their families from Appalachia, they are two of the very small number of charters located outside of the state’s urban communities. They illustrate what’s possible when educators, families, and an entire community come together to save their schools by transforming them into public charter schools.

This profile of the staff, students, and families of one of these schools—Sciotoville Elementary Academy—will show you an entirely new view of what charters can do to meet the needs of their communities, and why we need more of them in rural areas.

2016–17 was one of the slowest-growth years for charter schools in recent memory. Nobody knows exactly why, but one hypothesis is saturation: With charters having achieved market share of over 20 percent in more than three dozen cities, perhaps school supply is starting to meet parental demand, making new charters less necessary and harder to launch. If so, perhaps it’s time to look for new frontiers, especially if we want more children to enjoy the benefits of high-quality charters.

One option is to start more charter schools in affluent communities, which we surely support. But we couldn’t help but wonder: Are we overlooking neighborhoods in America that are already home to plenty of poor kids, and contain the population density necessary to make school choice work, but lack charter school options? Especially communities in the inner-ring suburbs of flourishing cities, which increasingly are becoming magnets for poor and working-class families priced out of gentrifying areas?

That’s the question that this report and its accompanying website address. The study, led by Miami University (of Ohio) Assistant Professor Andrew Saultz, analyzes the distribution of charter elementary schools across the country to provide parents, policymakers, and educators with information about which high and...

Education will always be one of Ohio’s highest priorities. It bonds communities together, provides the foundation for the state’s long-term economic success, and—most importantly—helps students across the state to realize their potential and pursue their dreams.

Data is imperative to understanding Ohio’s education policies, practices, and outcomes—both at a state level and locally. This guidebook offers simple and easy-to-use vital statistics about Ohio’s schools and the students they serve. The facts and figures contained within this report offer an overview of who Ohio’s students are; where they go to school; how they perform on national and state exams; and how many pursue post-secondary education. In addition, we present a few key statistics on Ohio’s educators, and how much Ohio taxpayers contribute to K-12 education and how those dollars are spent.

For those preferring a web version, try out

The 2017 edition of Ohio Education By the Numbers can be accessed here.

Schools have long failed to cultivate the innate talents of many of their young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. This failure harms the economy, widens income gaps, arrests upward mobility, and exacerbates civic decay and political division.

To address these issues, researchers Christopher Yaluma and Adam Tyner examined the extent to which access to and participation in gifted programs vary for different groups of students nationally and in each state, particularly in high-poverty schools. Here’s what they found:
  • More than two-thirds of elementary and middle schools have gifted programs.
  • Overall, high-poverty schools are just as likely as low-poverty schools to have them.
  • Yet students in low-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to participate in such programs.
  • Even when black and Hispanic students have gifted programs in their elementary and middle schools, they participate at much lower rates than their peers. 
  • In schools with gifted programs, only Maryland, Kentucky, and New Hampshire enroll more than 10 percent of the state’s black and Hispanic students in those programs; in twenty-two states it’s less than 5 percent.

Increasing the participation of qualified yet underrepresented students in gifted programming...

For more than a decade, Ohio’s annual school report cards have offered the public information on school quality. The current iteration of report cards has notable strengths: School ratings are grounded in hard data, they use an intuitive A-F rating system, and several of the metrics encourage schools to pay attention to the achievement of all students.

Yet as the state has phased in new components over recent years, report cards have become increasingly complex and many of the metrics are strongly correlated with students’ background characteristics. Fordham’s latest report, Back to the Basics, suggests significant changes that would reduce the complexity of the report cards—aiding comprehension—and would produce ratings that are fairer to schools of all poverty levels.

To improve report cards, the paper offers three key recommendations:

  • Reduce the number of A-F grades. Ohio report cards now include fourteen letter grades—and soon to be fifteen as an overall rating comes out in 2018. Legislators should reduce the number of ratings to six: an overall grade plus five component ratings—Achievement, Progress, Graduation, Prepared for Success, and Equity.
  • Overhaul the Gap Closing component and rename it Equity. Gap Closing gauges the performance of subgroups, including students with disabilities, race/ethnic groups,
  • ...